Archive for the ‘What Works’ Category

Short-term results from foot patrol in San Francisco

December 6, 2018

This article reports a 17% drop in thefts and 19% drop in assaults in San Francisco following reassignment of 69 officers to foot patrol in 2017. The main target was thefts, especially from autos, which had nearly doubled since 2010, from 2,100 per month to over 4,000, with a very low clearance rate. Analysis by UC-Berkeley documented the decline in offenses over the first few months of the initiative, while controlling for other variables. However, “the additional foot patrols didn’t impact the city’s other most-frequently reported crime categories, including robbery, burglary … vandalism and vehicle theft.”


Pain in the … back

October 31, 2018

This article reports a study by the Eau Claire, Wisconsin PD testing the impact on back pain of the traditional duty belt versus a load-bearing vest. The police partnered with local researchers to carry out the 6-month study in which 30 officers rotated between the two equipment options. Participants reported less pain wearing the vests and the department will make the switch. Besides the relief for officers, a deputy chief noted “Lost time due to injury or medical cost related to back injuries are significant and the entire community shares that cost.”

Proactive non-enforcement in hot spots

September 29, 2018

This blog post summarizes a study of foot-patrol hot spot policing in Newark, New Jersey. Enforcement actions (arrests, stops, and summonses) did not result in violent crime decreases, but other forms of proactive policing were apparently more effective — collectively, increased citizen contacts, business checks, bus checks, and taxi inspections were associated with a drop of over 50% in violent crime in the target areas, with no evidence of displacement.

Effectiveness + fairness

September 17, 2018

Police departments have gotten better at targeting hot spots and active offenders over the last decade, relying more and more on data, analysis, and evidence-based strategies. This approach has not reduced disparate impacts on people of color, however, leading some critics to call for scaling back data-driven policing. This column discusses the dilemma, argues against abandoning effective strategies, and recommends three additional responses: making strategies as tailored and surgical as possible, concurrent emphasis on engagement and community collaboration, and deeper investment in community crime prevention.

Focusing on crime guns

September 7, 2018

This best practices manual explains how agencies are increasingly using crime gun intelligence to “disrupt the shooting cycle.” The aim is to develop quicker intelligence using NIBIN and the ATF gun tracing center to connect ballistics evidence, guns used in crimes, and shooters. Equally important is rapid dissemination and sharing of information among an agency’s units and between neighboring agencies. According to the manual, the approach “has proven its value in measurable reductions in violent gun crime through apprehension and successful prosecution of violent offenders.”

Research in the ranks

June 25, 2018

This article reports the recent conference of the American Society of Evidence-Based Policing, which mainly featured current police officers presenting results from their own research. The organization, just a few years old, mirrors similar ones in the UK, Canada, Australia/New Zealand plus initial efforts in India and Mexico. The emphasis is on learning and applying what works, rather than simply relying on “what we’ve always done” or copying the latest popular idea from a neighboring agency.

Podcast on ALPR effectiveness

June 9, 2018

Here’s a 13-minute podcast describing the Vallejo PD’s use of scientific methods to test the effectiveness of automated license plate readers (ALPRs). The presenter, Jason Potts, is a lieutenant with the police department, one of the founders of the American Society of Evidence Based Policing (ASEBP), and a National Institute of Justice LEADS Scholar.

Traffic cameras

May 10, 2018

This article reports efforts by state legislators in Iowa and Ohio to ban the use of automated traffic enforcement based on the claim that local governments are merely trying to raise revenue. Such claims conveniently ignore the evidence that speed cameras and red light cameras improve driver behavior, reduce crashes, and save lives.

Police-led restorative justice

April 2, 2018

This blog post summarizes a 2-year study in 3 UK jurisdictions of police involvement in restorative justice, including street-level police activity and referrals to service partners. Research found that training and having an agency “champion” were significant, and “it is important for restorative justice to be rooted in mainstream police practice.” The study concluded “it is clear … that restorative justice benefits both victims of crime … and offenders … and the police organisation more generally.” Links are provided to several reports, including a synopsis of prior research in Belgium and Northern Ireland.

Focused deterrence POP Guide

March 21, 2018

The focused deterrence or “pulling levers” approach to crime reduction has gained popularity over the last 20 years and has been utilized in many jurisdictions. A new POP Guide, available here, summarizes 21 evaluations of the strategy, explains its underlying rationale, and outlines key elements and phases involved in its implementation. The guide emphasizes the importance of starting with careful problem analysis, since “Even if research knowledge suggests that a particular response has proved effective elsewhere, that does not mean the response will be effective everywhere. Local factors matter a lot in choosing which responses to use.”